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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notice-69-report-and-clearance-by-ships-masters/notice-69-report-and-clearance-by-ships-masters
1. Report and clearance by ships’ masters
1.1 What is this notice about?
This notice explains the report and clearance procedures for commercial vessels arriving in, or departing from the UK.
1.2 What’s changed?
This notice has been updated to include details of the Ship’s Reports and Compliance Team in Salford, to emphasise the need to comply with reporting requirements and to reflect the introduction of Border Force.
This notice replaces the July 2012 version.
You can access details of any changes to this notice since July 2012 on our website or by phoning the Customs, International Trade and Excise enquiries line on Telephone: 0300 200 3700.
This notice and others mentioned are available on our website and may be available on paper. Please check hard copy availability with the Customs, International Trade and Excise enquiries line on Telephone: 0300 200 3700.
1.3 Who should read this notice?
Ships’ masters and their agents should read this notice. The information in this notice applies to commercial vessels arriving at or departing from ports in the UK and are either:
- carrying cargo which has not been cleared in the EU
- carrying duty free stores
- carrying prohibited or restricted goods
- carrying passengers
- any of the crew is being paid off
Unless a vessel is part of an authorised regular shipping service (please read paragraph 2.2), all vessels arriving in or departing from the UK territorial waters must report inwards, including vessels arriving and working at offshore installations, and obtain outwards clearance. Please read Section 2 for inwards reporting and Section 3 for outwards clearance for details of the documentation that will be required.
The Isle of Man is included in any reference to the UK for the purpose of this notice.
If you are arriving in or departing from the UK on a private pleasure craft, please read Excise Notice 8: sailing your pleasure craft to and from the United Kingdom.
1.4 The law
The law covering this notice is:
The Community Customs Code EC 2913/92 (as amended) Articles 37 to 47 and Articles 183 to 189 of the Implementation Regulation EC 2454/93 (as amended) specifies the requirements for reporting third country cargo carried on board ships arriving in the EU.
EC Directive 2002/6/EC, which came into force on 9 September 2003.
The Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) 1979 Section 35, Section 53 and Section 64.
The Directions made by the Commissioners under CEMA Section 35 and Section 64 are:
Ship’s Report, Importation and Exportation by Sea Regulations 1981 (as amended 1 December 1986 and 11 August 2003)
Passenger Information (18 October 2001) as amended by Commissioners Directions - 11 August 2003
Note: this notice is not the law. It is our view of the law and nothing in this notice takes the place of the law.
1.5 What other notices should I read?
(a) Ship’s stores
If you have duty free stores on board when you arrive in the UK, or you want to load duty free stores before departure from the UK, please read Notice 69A: duty free ships’ stores.
(b) Importing non-EU goods into the UK?
If you are unloading or transporting non-EU goods, please read Notice 199: imported goods: Customs procedures and Customs debt.
1.6 Are any goods subject to prohibition or restrictions?
Yes, amongst the goods subject to import prohibitions and restrictions are:
- controlled drugs such as opium, heroin, morphine, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines, lysergide (LSD), MDMA (known colloquially as Ecstasy) and barbiturates
- counterfeit currency
- firearms, ammunition, realistic imitation firearms, and explosives including fireworks and ammonium nitrate
- offensive weapons such as - flick knives, butterfly knives, belt buckle knives, push daggers, swordsticks, hand and foot claws, death stars, spring operated telescopic truncheons, blow pipes, knuckledusters, hollow kubotans, certain martial art type items, curved blade swords with a blade over 50 centimetres and any knife which has a concealed blade or concealed sharp point and is designed to appear to be an everyday object
- indecent or obscene materials featuring children, such as books, magazines, photographs, films, videos and IT equipment including software
- pornographic material other than that which depicts the type of consensual sexual activity between adults which can be legally purchased in the UK
- most animals and birds, whether alive or dead. The Animal Health website explains further - for more details contact by email AHITChelmsford@animalhealth.gsi.gov.uk (UK Telephone: 01245 454860)
- certain articles derived from rare species including fur skins, ivory, reptile leather and goods made from them
- meats, dairy, milk (whether fresh or dried), fish, poultry, honey and most of their products (whether or not cooked) from outside the EU - for more details contact the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), UK Telephone: 0845 933 5577 or visit their website defra
- plants, bulbs, trees, fruit, potatoes and other vegetables - for more details contact the Plant Health Service of the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) UK Telephone: 0844 248 0071
- radio transmitters not approved for use in the UK - for further information contact the Radiocommunications Agency, UK Telephone: 020 7211 0463
1.7 Safety certificates
Safety certificates are now part of the existing Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Port State Control checks that all vessels must conform to. There is an obligation on masters to comply with safety conventions that are to an agreed international standard. All safety certificates must be valid and in date.
Further information can be obtained from the MCA.
UK Telephone: 02380 329 100, 8.30am to 5pm
2. Arriving at a port in the UK
2.1 Who is responsible for making the report?
The master of the vessel, or a person authorised by him, is responsible for making the report. A shipping agent usually lodges the report on the master’s behalf.
2.2 Do all vessels need to report?
All vessels arriving from outside the EU must report their arrival however:
- vessels arriving from within the EU don’t have to report if they are part of an ‘authorised regular shipping service’ - an ‘authorised regular shipping service’ vessel is a vessel that only operates between EU ports (other than Freeport/Freezones) on a regular, previously authorised, scheduled service, all Customs authorities in each EU port of call are required to approve the service and vessels must carry on board a valid certificate issued by the customs authority where the application was originally made
- all other vessels arriving at a UK port from a port in another EU country must report their arrival
If you are in any doubt as to whether you need to report you should contact the Customs, International Trade and Excise enquiries line on Telephone: 0300 200 3700.
2.3 When must the report be made?
The report must be made:
- as detailed in paragraph 2.13, within 3 hours of the ship reaching its berth - if the designated place is closed, within 1 hour of its opening
- 24 hours after the ship’s arrival within port limits if it is still at anchor or has not yet reached its berth - an agent may apply for an extension if circumstances warrant for example, adverse weather conditions
- when requested by an officer visiting your vessel
Failure to report within the above timescales may lead to a civil penalty of up to £1,000.
2.4 Which forms will I need to complete to make a ship’s report?
All vessels required to report must use the following forms as appropriate:
- International Maritime Organisation (IMO) FAL form 1 (C94) - general declaration
- IMO FAL form 3 C95 - ship’s stores declaration
- IMO FAL form 4 C96) - crew’s effects declaration
- IMO FAL form 5 C97 - crew’s list
- IMO FAL form 6 C98 - passenger list
- a cargo declaration
You may be asked to provide an extra copy of some or all of the report forms. You will be advised if additional copies are required.
There are heavy penalties for making a false declaration and the person signing the forms is declaring that the particulars entered or accompanying the forms are true and complete.
2.5 IMO FAL form 1 (C94) - general declaration
This form is used to provide information relating to the vessel on its arrival and departure from the UK.
Box 13 of this form should contain a description of cargo, where this can be expressed in a short phrase (usually where the cargo is a single bulk commodity). Where a separate cargo declaration (for example, a manifest) is submitted, box 13 should contain details of any unmanifested items, such as small packages and unaccompanied baggage in charge of the master, livestock and birds.
The form must be signed either by the master or a person authorised and acting on the master’s authority.
2.6 IMO FAL form 3 (C95) - ship’s stores declaration
This form is used to provide information relating to ship’s stores on arrival. If you are carrying firearms you should have a valid licence or permit authorising their carriage/possession from the appropriate country of origin.
A separate declaration should be provided for each actual location within the vessel that is used to store ship’s stores. The person responsible for checking the ship’s stores should complete the form and the master should sign the form. Alternatively the officer who has personal knowledge of the stores, and is authorised by the master, may sign the form. The number of IMO FAL form 3s C95 completed should be included in box 18 of the IMO FAL form 1 C94.
Approved Regular Shipping Service vessels must also report any stores that they are carrying. Please read, Notice 69A: ‘duty free ships’ stores.
2.7 IMO FAL form 4 (C96) - crew’s effects declaration
This form is used to provide information relating to crew’s effects.
Crews arriving directly from outside of the EU
Each member of the crew is only required to complete this form in respect of any effects that are in excess of their traveller’s allowance or subject to prohibitions or restrictions, please read paragraph 1.6 for more information on prohibited and restricted goods.
The excess goods declared can’t be landed in the UK unless duty is paid and any licensing requirements are fulfilled regarding restricted goods. If a crew member is being paid off or going on leave, goods in excess of their allowance, and/or restricted goods with appropriate documents, must be produced to a Border Force officer, if requested, and in all cases relevant duties and/or taxes paid. Please read, Notice 1: Travelling to the UK
Crews arriving from a place within the EU
Each member of the crew is only required to complete this form in respect of any effects that aren’t in free circulation or subject to prohibitions or restrictions.
On voyages from the EU there is no traveller’s allowance so all duty free items owned by the crew must be declared but can’t be landed. Any goods landed under such conditions may be liable to forfeiture. Notice 69A: Duty free ships’ stores explains this in more detail. Goods subject to prohibitions or restrictions must also be declared, please read paragraph 1.6.
Applicable to all members of the crew
Each person making a declaration on this form signs their declaration, and when all the individual declarations are complete, the form should be signed by the master or a person authorised by the master stating the declaration is complete.
2.8 IMO FAL form 5 (C97) - crew’s list
This form is used to provide information relating to the number and composition of the crew on arrival or departure.
For customs purposes we require this form to be completed as part of the ship’s reporting and clearance formalities.
2.9 IMO FAL form 6 (C98) - passenger list
This form is used to provide information relating to passengers on vessels that are certified to carry 12 passengers or less. This form should be used on arrival and departure when applicable.
On occasions we may accept a dual-purpose declaration for arrival and departure, for instance if the passengers are identical and the vessel is in port for only a short stay.
2.10 Where can I obtain copies of the IMO FAL forms in the UK?
Copies of all the forms used in the ship’s reporting formalities are available in the links above, on the GOV.UK website.
They can also be requested from the Customs, International Trade and Excise enquiries line on Telephone: 0300 200 3700 which operates Monday to Friday, 8am and 6pm.
2.11 Declaration of cargo
The cargo declaration normally consists of the manifest, but other commercial or administrative document(s) relating to the goods and containing the necessary particulars for each consignment may be accepted.
The manifest or other commercial or administrative documents should give the following details for each consignment, as applicable:
- the maritime transport document reference, for example, the bill of lading number
- the container identification/vehicle registration number
- the number, kind, marks and numbers of the packages
- the description and gross weight/volume of the goods
- the port or place where the goods were loaded onto the vessel
- the original port or place of shipment for goods on a through maritime transport document
The declaration should say:
‘I declare to the best of my knowledge, that these cargo details are correct for the cargo carried in ……..……… (name of vessel) which are contained in this/these document(s) consisting of………. (number) …………..… page(s).
If there is no manifest or other suitable document we will accept your cargo declaration on the model form (IMO FAL 2) produced by the IMO. Their address is:
4 Albert Embankment
Telephone: 020 7735 7611 or visit the IMO website.
If your ship is carrying a single bulk commodity, you can give us the details in box 13 of the IMO FAL form 1 instead of in a separate cargo declaration.
Some ports in the UK operate a computerised inventory control system. You can usually make your cargo declaration by computer at these ports. If you do, you must include the words ‘Declaration of cargo by computer’ in box 13 of IMO FAL form 1.
Shipping companies may, but are under no obligation to, include on their cargo manifest details of the customs status of the goods carried on the ship. This saves their customers from having to provide separate evidence of status for community goods. For further information, please read Part II of the EU Transit Manual PDF and the UK Transit Manual Supplement.
2.12 What should I do if there are firearms on board the vessel?
In the UK, firearms are restricted. Firearms must not be unloaded from a vessel without the necessary licence. Depending on where they are located/stored on the vessel and whether or not they are owned by a crew member will depend upon which form they should be declared on, the IMO FAL form 3 - ‘ship’s stores’ or IMO FAL form 4 - ‘crew’s effects’. If you are carrying firearms you should have a valid licence or permit authorising their carriage/possession from the appropriate country of origin.
2.13 Where should I send my documents to make a report?
All reports are to be sent to the National Ship’s Reports and Compliance Team which is part of the National Clearance Hub (NCH). The required documentation can be sent by email, fax or by post (if original documents are called for). The contact details are as follows:
National Ship's Reports and Compliance Team
3 Stanley Street
Telephone: 03000 579 577
Fax: 03000 588 473/474 and 475
The ship’s reports team operate Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays), 8am to 4pm.
You must keep a signed copy of all the original documents used to make the report on board your vessel. Failure to keep a copy of the documents on board during your stay within the limits of a UK port may lead to a civil penalty of up to £1,000.
2.14 What should I do if my vessel is carrying passengers who will be disembarking or crew members that are being paid off?
The ship’s master is responsible for telling us in advance if you have on board:
- passengers who are going to disembark
- crew members who will be paid off
We may need to ask questions and examine their baggage and any articles they may be carrying. Therefore if we are informed in advance, Border Force will have the opportunity to be present to give them clearance.
Passengers who aren’t European Economic Area (EEA) citizens must get permission to enter the UK. Unless prior arrangements have been made with Border Force, these passengers must not come ashore until a Border Force officer has seen them. This section equally applies to persons described in paragraph 2.14.
3. Leaving a port in the UK
3.1 Which vessels must be cleared to leave a UK port?
All vessels leaving a UK port for a destination outside the EU or for a free zone within the EU must obtain customs clearance outwards. Vessels destined for another UK port or for other EU ports aren’t required to obtain customs outward clearance.
If you are unsure whether you need to obtain customs outward clearance, for example where the ship will be undertaking some activity (like cable-laying or dredging) at sea before returning to port, you should contact the Customs, International Trade and Excise Helpline on Telephone: 0300 200 3700.
Whether or not your vessel requires customs outward clearance prior to departure, there is still an obligation on masters to comply with safety conventions adopted as international standards.
For further information on the issue of safety, contact the MCA on Telephone: 02380 329100.
3.2 Where can I obtain clearance?
Outward clearance can be obtained at the designated place given in paragraph 2.13.
For out of hours clearance requests, the master or the agent should phone the Duty Officer at the NCH to advise that they are about to submit a clearance request. They should then fax copies of the necessary forms to the NCH. The phone numbers and the fax number to use are:
Telephone: 03000 588 401
Fax: 03000 588 473/474 and 475
3.3 What forms and documents must I provide?
You will need to complete an IMO FAL form 1 (C94) in duplicate, IMO FAL form 5 (C97) and IMO FAL form 6 (C98) if you are carrying 12 passengers or fewer. In addition, a copy of the cargo declaration will need to be provided. The IMO FAL form 3 (C95) will also need to be completed on departure if stores remain on board or have been loaded in the UK.
There are heavy penalties for making false declarations.
3.4 Are any simplified reporting arrangements available?
Yes. Subject to certain conditions, vessels that have a predictable pattern and duration of movement such as dredgers, rig supply and safety vessels and ferries may apply for:
- an omnibus clearance (covering a fixed time period and specified voyages)
- advance clearance (where details of the next voyages are already known)
Applications to operate these simplified reporting arrangements should be made, in advance, by writing to the National Ship’s Reports and Compliance Team detailed in paragraph 2.13. The ship’s reports team can advise on what information is required.
|ATA carnet||Stands for ‘Admission Temporaire - Temporary Admission’. The carnets are multi-sheet documents issued by Chamber of Commerce, with the backing of an international guarantee chain, to facilitate the temporary export and re-import of all kinds of goods|
|Authorised Regular Shipping Service||A vessel that only operates between EU ports (other than Freeport/Freezones) on a regular, previously approved, scheduled service|
|Border Force||This is the part of the Home Office responsible for customs and immigration border controls|
|EEA||European Economic Area|
|EFTA||The European Free Trade Association. Member countries are Iceland; Norway; Switzerland and Liechtenstein|
|EC/EU||The European Community: Member States are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom
Although the whole of Cyprus is part of the EU, goods from any area of Cyprus not under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus are treated as non-EU imports
|IMO FAL||International Maritime Organization Facilitation Convention|
|Port limits||For customs purposes, the limit of a port is anywhere within the UK Territorial Sea (the 12 mile limit) and includes inland waterways|
|Pre-shipment declaration||A full statistical Customs declaration presented to Customs with the goods|
|SAD||Single Administrative Document. In its full 8-copy format it is used as a combined export, CT and import document. Copy 2 of the document is the export statistical declaration. Copy 3 is the exporter’s copy and will be authenticated by customs. The exporter retains it unless it is required to be presented with the goods at the EU frontier if the goods are exported via other Member States. If CT procedures are used, copies 4 and 5 of the SAD must be presented with the goods at the office of destination. In the UK this form is known as the C88|
|Special territories||Aland Islands; Canary Islands; Channel Islands; French Overseas Departments of Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique and Reunion; Mount Athos, also known as Agion Poros|
|Tariff||HM Revenue and Customs Integrated Tariff of the United Kingdom. It is in 3 volumes. Volume 1 - General Information. Volume 2 - Schedule of duty and trade statistical descriptions codes and rates. Volume 3 - Customs freight procedures|
|Third country||Any country or territory that is not part of the EU|
|UK||Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It does not include the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, but for VAT purposes the Isle of Man is treated as part of the UK|
Your rights and obligations
Your charter explains what you can expect from us and what we expect from you. For more information go to, Your Charter.
Do you have any comments?
If you have any comments or suggestions to make about this notice please write to:
HM Revenue and Customs
Excise, Customs Stamps and Money
Excise and Customs Law Team
10th Floor NW Alexander House
21 Victoria Avenue
Please note this address is not for general enquiries.
For your general enquiries please contact our helpline on Telephone: 0300 200 3700.
Putting things right
If you are unhappy with our service, please contact the person or office you have been dealing with. They’ll try to put things right. If you are still unhappy, they’ll tell you how to complain.
If you want to know more about making a complaint, please read Complain to HM Revenue and Customs.
How we use your information
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is a Data Controller under the Data Protection Act 1998. We hold information for the purposes specified in our notification to the Information Commissioner, including the assessment and collection of tax and duties, the payment of benefits and the prevention and detection of crime, and may use this information for any of them.
We may get information about you from others, or we may give information to them. If we do, it will only be as the law permits to:
- check the accuracy of information
- prevent or detect crime
- protect public funds
We may check information we receive about you with what is already in our records. This can include information provided by you, as well as by others, such as other government departments or agencies and overseas tax and customs authorities. We won’t give information to anyone outside HMRC unless the law permits us to do so.
For more information, please read the Data Protection Act.